The regulation of Indonesia's thermal emission quality standards is still considered weak. Photo by TheInsiderStories.

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – Indonesia’s thermal emission quality regulation has been revised by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry in April, but environmental organizations consider the revision of this rule, especially for coal plants, still weak.

Greenpeace Indonesia and BaliFokus or Nexus3 at a press conference on Thursday (05/16) assessed that the revised regulation did not pay attention to public safety and health, in addition to weak emission standards.

“Emissions from the coal steam power plant have been shown to contain various kinds of pollutants which endanger human health, not only for residents living around the coal power plant but these dangerous pollutants will be carried away by wind for hundreds of kilometers and impact on the wider community,” said Tata Mustafa, head of Greenpeace Southeast Asia’s climate and energy campaign.

The government’s efforts over the past few years have revised Minister of Environment Regulation No.21, 2008 because the coal emission power plant quality standard still uses very large numbers, namely 750 mg/Nm3 for sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NO2), and particulate 100. The regulation also does not regulate particulate parameters (PM) 2.5 and mercury. This very weak standard must be revised.

Mustafa explained the three categories of regulatory revisions. First, for the steam power plant to operate before Dec. 1, 2008. Second, the steam power plant which plans or operates after Jan. 1, 2009 – Dec. 31, 2020.

Third, the steam power plant which operates after January 1, 2021. Practically, he adds, there is no steam power plant will be in the third category because all steam power plants are already in the planning.

Greenpeace noted that the emission standards in the first and the second category were still very weak. The numbers set for SO2 parameters are 550 mg/Nm3, and NO2 is 550 mg/Nm3, Indonesia’ emissions quality standard values ​​are three to 15 times weaker than China, Japan, and South Korea.

While for PM of 100 mg/Nm3, Indonesia’s emission quality standard values ​​are five to 20 times weaker than the three countries. The weak regulation that is set will certainly cause serious negative impacts as long as the power plant is operating, and Indonesia will be locked in the threat of serious air pollution during its 30 years of operation.

Meanwhile, only 23 percent of the total power plant which will operate after Jan. 1, 2021, which is 12,721 MW, will be on a fairly strict emission standard, according to Greenpeace records.

On the other hand, to achieve new emission quality standards in the new regulation, according to BaliFokus/Nexus3, it is necessary to install emission control technology in each coal power plant which of course requires high costs.

“Based on our calculations, costs of 105 to 315 million rupiahs per MW of coal power plant capacity are needed to reduce PM emissions; 525 to 840 million rupiahs per MW of power plant capacity to reduce NOx emissions; and 210 to 315 million rupiah per MW of power plant capacity to reduce emissions SOx,” said Yuyun Ismawati, senior advisor at BaliFokus/Nexus3.

The increase in coal prices that occurred again this year to US$ 95.54 per ton, up by 11.1 percent compared to the benchmark coal price in 2017, became a problem for the coal power plant, he adds. Previously, the benchmark coal price in 2017 also increased by 38.94 percent compared to 2016 which was only $61.84 per ton, or the highest price increase in the past four years.

According to Ismawati, the rising coal prices trend is certainly a separate burden for the state power producer PT Perusahaan Listik Negara (PLN), where the construction of the new coal power plant which will operate for the next 30 years will experience a predicted increase in coal prices.

On the other hand, the price of new and renewable energy globally continues to decline more drastically and becomes the main competitor of fossil energy in 2020, where the price of renewable energy will be cheaper than fossil energy. The price of fossil energy in the G20 countries is currently around Rp400-1,350/kWh, while the price of solar energy is projected at only Rp400/kWh in 2019.

In addition to cheap prices, the use of renewable energy as a source of electricity generation in Indonesia will also be more profitable because this energy does not produce pollutants that are harmful to humans and the environment so it does not require emission control technology as required by the coal power plant.

Thus, the transition to renewable energy is not only the best choice to save our environment, but also a smart choice to save Indonesia’s economy, she concluded.

Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: